What a busy start to 2017! The main focus of the works team has been to install the new biomass heating main for the yard buildings. The pipes from the boiler house (under construction in the commercial area; it will be contained within the new agricultural shed) have been laid in to Achranich and the joiner’s shop. We plan to be up and running with the system commissioned by the end of April, which is line with government requirements.
We continue to expand the commercial area. The surplus soil is being landscaped in to the field behind the kitchen gardens and is starting to look very nice with the natural contours of the hills being followed. This has allowed us to improve the drainage from the industrial area down to Achranich and beyond and will bring a significant amount of organic farmland into good order. To facilitate this we’ve also drained and hardened the road leading from the back of the gardens down to the Highlander byre.
The Socaich hard road network out to both intakes is complete. What a road it is too! The walk to the top of Glais Bheinn and on to the Table from the Achranich hill intake will be a good deal easier.
We’re completing interim roof repairs to the House held over from last year’s winter maintenance programme. The cherry picker has completed its work on the rear elevations from inside the courtyard. Unfortunately the weather’s not been so kind so much of the paintwork won’t be possible this time. However we’ve used the machine to good effect catching up on repairs to the not so easy to get to yard buildings.
Winter improvements to the letting properties are ongoing. A new ensuite shower has been installed in Boat House. The bathrooms in the Craigs have new extractor fans. New wood burning stove in Castle Cottage. Nursery Flat has been redecorated. Allan’s done a fine job repapering the lounge.
The scoping meeting for our native woodlands long-term forest plan was extremely well attended and produced a lively debate. It’s fair to say deer and land restoration issues did at times overly sidetrack the discussion, but all in all it was a good airing of views. A propos this work, we are working on deer management and habitat monitoring proposals and have let a contract for this work to provide us with baseline data for the monitoring programme.
Helen Rickets is our new head housekeeper and is settling into her role.
Our second biennial Burns Supper was a huge success and well attended.
Our annual farm inspections took place last month. Apart from a minor non-compliance on Inninmore we passed muster. The inspector thought the stock was looking very good across both farms.
The feed stance in the tin shed field has been hardened and extended. It was picked up by the last two farm inspections as unsatisfactory but passed with flying colours this time. We’re carrying out improvements to the access road and front apron of the farm buildings at Acharn, and to the calving pens at Claggan and the haul road. Ali Nudds will play a significant role in joining the farm team over the next 4/5 months to carry out a range of duties including filed work, drainage and silage production.
We sold 29 cast ewes and tups at the February sale and received a slightly better price than expected.
Management are working on proposals to remove hill sheep in the autumn.